Saturday, November 21, 2009

AP: Cal Beats No. 14 Stanford 34-28 in Big Game

Link.  (The headline should be Stanford runs out of Luck).

Shane Vereen ran for a career-high 193 yards and three touchdowns on 42 carries and Mike Mohamed intercepted a pass from Andrew Luck at the 3 with less than 2 minutes left as California spoiled No. 14 Stanford's Rose Bowl hopes with a 34-28 victory in the Big Game on Saturday.

What was billed as the biggest Big Game in years lived up to the pregame hype, with Stanford's Heisman Trophy contender Toby Gerhart rushing for 136 yards, four touchdowns and carrying defenders on a 29-yard reception that set up Stanford (7-4, 6-3) at the Cal 13 with less than 2 minutes left.

Luck then threw an incompletion on first down and was intercepted by Mohamed on second with 1:36 to go, setting off a wild celebration on the Cal sideline. After Kevin Riley took three knees, the Cal students rushed the field and Stanford Stadium as the Golden Bears (8-3, 5-3 Pac-10) won the coveted Axe for the seventh time in eight years.

Stanford came into the game off two of its biggest wins in recent memory, scoring 106 points in the back-to-back victories over nationally ranked Oregon and Southern California that put the Cardinal in position to win the conference title.

Stanford looked poised for another big win after jumping out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. But the Golden Bears responded behind Vereen and a defense that flummoxed Luck.

The victory puts a bright spot on a mostly disappointing season for the Bears, who entered the season with hopes of a Rose Bowl bid or possible national title. That was dashed with blowout losses to Oregon and USC and the season looked lost when star tailback Jahvid Best was sidelined by a scary concussion in a loss two weeks ago against Oregon State.

Vereen has responded with the two best games of his career the past two weeks in wins over Arizona and Stanford. Running effectively off direct snaps in Cal's form of the wildcat, Vereen overpowered the Cardinal. The Bears drove more than 70 yards on three consecutive drives starting late in the second quarter, all ending with short runs by Vereen.

Link to rest of story.

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